UPDATE! Volunteer Journal #72 – The NOH8 Pic is Here

Thanks to the wonderful Adam Bouska I finally got my NoH8 Campaign picture.  Super Cool!  Especially considering that the man probably takes hundreds of people's pictures a day.

Cheers to a really inventive charity and a fabulous campaign to bring equality to all!

To do your own NOH8 photo visit the website and check out a photo shoot in your area.  It's well worth the time and effort.

Volunteer Journal #72 – The NoH8 Portrait

 

I was about to jump the border.  At the last minute I got the opportunity to work and live in Europe for the summer. It was a chance to work on a children’s book (8-12 year old age group) that I had conceived 5 years ago and had outlined in full and started the previous year.

Between brushing up on my Spanish, rehabbing injuries sustained when I was hit by a drunk driver in April, finding and packing sensible walking shoes, regular work stuff, lining up someone to take care of my US stuff, and going to play rehearsal for my play Things Unsaid opening in NoHo with one of the best casts ever - I was swamped.

Then…

I found out that NOH8 was doing one of their famous photo shoots in Long Beach, CA about 30 minutes from my house only days before I left town! Must do!

The NOH8 Campaign is a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.”

I’m always big on education as a method of social change, but the truly unique driving force behind this organization is the visual protest i.e. picture campaign launched by celeb photographer Adam Bouska and his partner Jeff Parshley.

In 2008 California adopted a hard line against marriage equality when Proposition 8 amended the California constitution to ban same sex marriage.

The NOH8 Campaign is a photographic silent protest. Photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislation around the world.”

This is how the photo shoot worked.  Wearing white (required!) I showed up about 30 minutes early so I was one of the first people in line. (No, cutting corners for you people – I want to experience what you guys will experience, so I stand my ass in line – word!). I filled out a photograph release form, and paid ($40 donation) for Adam to take a few shots. Next a NOH8 temporary tattoo was plastered to my cheek, and finally the emblematic/nerve racking silver duct tape is placed over your mouth. Awkward.  Claustrophobics beware. Then I stood in front of Adam on a white background and he told me how to pose aka what looks best. He picks the winning photo and airbrushes it, so no worries about looking pretty. 6 to 8 weeks later you get your photo.

This is volunteering, in that, you’re taking time out of your day to show up and show support, and it’s also a donation $40.

Now I’m pounding back green tea and Jacob’s Cream Crackers every morning, working on my book, and procrastinating by checking to see if the picture has come back yet.  They said 6 to 8 weeks, but you never know....

The NOH8 Campaign is an inventive and fun way to raise money for a good cause.  In the wake of North Carolina’s decision to ban same sex marriage this month more work clearly needs to be done for equality.

* My NOH8 pic isn’t ready yet so instead here’s a pic of me outside a conveniently named pub.

Volunteer Journal #65 – The Trevor Project

“Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds.”

Downer opening but, let's face it, 15-24 is rough. For many of us it's the worse time of our life.  Almost impossible. You get raging hormones, a new body, acne, and hair in random places. You want to experiment with stuff, learn what you are and are not capable of, but you're still under the watchful eye of the ever present parentals. And then there are your classmates. I don’t know many adults who weren’t picked on to some extent.

Personally, I feared walking into the cafeteria so much during high school that I started eating lunch in the library with the librarian. I got a lot of reading done.

But, besides being female, I wasn't in any minority or oppressed group. I can't fathom...

“LGB youth are up to 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.”

Is it any wonder?  We tell them they can die for their country but they can't tell us who they really are.  We tell them they can't legally be with the person that they love, so sorry - no legal protection for you. In many countries lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are even butchered by the law. So, is it any wonder?

That's why I'm so honored I got to work with The Trevor Project on Labor Day weekend.

The Trevor Project’s goal is to stop suicide among young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning youth, but anyone seeking help is welcome to call their 24/7 help line 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) to talk to a counselor.

My friend Sara, who spent time in Africa rehabilitating monkeys (random amazing factoid - see pic), joined me and other volunteers from the group Century of Compassion. We made survival kits!  Filled with information on GLBTQ literature and films and tips on how to deal with and prevent bullying. The kits are sent to kids, parents, schools, anyone who needs help - and they're free, so don't be shy about calling to ask for one.

The Trevor Project needs volunteers to make survival kids, be lifeline counselors (you have to go through training), or answer Trevor Chat.  Trevor Chat is a new instant messaging program for anyone who might be too scared to call.  They've talked to kids as young as 9 who need counseling.

Trevor took 33,000 calls last year, and intervened in a several suicide attempts.  If you have a friend or know someone who needs to talk please encourage them to call.

Life is rough but it would be so much less interesting without you around. Lots of people care and have been through something similar.  Please call 866-4-U-Trevor.

It gets so much better.